Sunday: Hili dialogue, Senate retention edition

November 13, 2022 • 7:00 am

I recommend, first, that if you haven’t read yesterday’s post on the infusion of progressive ideology into the Freedom From Religion Foundation (Saturday is a slow day here), do so.

Welcome to the goyische cat Sabbath: Sunday, November 13, 2022, and it’s a great food day—National Indian Pudding Day. This molasses-and-cornmeal based dessert, earthy in flavor and best topped with vanilla ice cream that melts on the warm pudding, is hard to find, but I love it above nearly all American desserts. You used to be able to get it at the Durgin-Park Restaurant in Boston, but they closed for good (a terrible loss). Now I hear you can get it at the nearby Union Oyster House near the Government Center Stop on the Green Line. Here’s a photo and a link to a good recipe:

It’s also National Pupusa Day (an El Salvadorian corn pancake usually filled with meat) Sadie Hawkins Day , taken from the comic strip “Li’l Abner” (click to read about it), World Kindness Day, and International Tongue Twister Day. Here are a few I’ve found:

Polish: Przeleciały trzy pstre przepiórzyce przez trzy pstre kamienice.  (Three spotted quails flew through three spotted tenement houses.) Click to hear the pronunciation.

French: Le cricri de la crique crie son cri et critique car il craint que l’escroc ne le croque et ne le craque. (The cicaa of the cove shouts its cry and criticizes because he fears that the sammer will eat him and break him.)

German: Der dicke Dachdecker deckt Dir dein Dach, drum dank dem dicken Dachdecker, dass der dicke Dachdecker Dir Dein Dach deckte. (The fat roofer tiles your roof, so thank the fat roofer, that the fat roofer tiled your roof.)

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this day by consulting the November 13 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

BIG NEWS!!!!! EXTRA!!!!! Headline from the NYT (click to read).

Democrats sealed control of the Senate on Saturday as Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada narrowly defeated Adam Laxalt, a Republican former state attorney general, a decisive moment in an extraordinary midterm election in which Democrats defied historical patterns and predictions of major losses.

Control of the House has still not been decided, several days after an Election Day that fell short of predictions that Republicans would sweep to power in Washington in a repudiation of President Biden’s leadership. Though Republicans still have an edge in capturing the House, their majority would certainly be small.

*(I wrote this bit yesterday evening.) I want you to remember that, just a I called the last election down to the precise electoral vote, I’m predicting that the Senate will be taken by the Democrats with a Dem/Gop ratio of 51/49, for I think that in Nevada, Dem Catherine Masto will beat GOP opponent Adam Laxalt (that alone will guarantee Democratic control of the Senate), and that in December’s runoff election in Georgia, Herschel “I didn’t pay” Walker will be defeated by Democrat Raphael Warnock.

I also predict (duh) that the GOP will take the House, but it looks like a slim margin, with yesterday evening’s count being 211 Republicans and 201 Democrats elected, with 218 needed to win. I am not predicting exact counts here, though.

From the NYT:

In Nevada, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat and the first Latina elected to the Senate, was narrowing the gap with her Republican challenger, Adam Laxalt, a former state attorney general.

. . . Here’s what else to know today:

I would be SO happy if Boebert lost. I mean, our Representatives are supposed to have some functioning neurons, not a Glock on their hips. These dumb-asses are an embarrassment to America.

*And speaking of Her Glockness, she’s ahead, but barely:

It could take weeks to settle the electoral fate of one of the most polarizing members of the House: Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a far-right provocateur known for heckling President Biden during his State of the Union speech, carrying a gun on Capitol Hill and her defiance of mask rules.

Ms. Boebert, who is in her first term, was leading her challenger Adam Frisch, a Democrat, by less than 1,200 votes in the state’s Third Congressional District race as of Friday, with 95 percent of the votes counted, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Frisch, a businessman and former Aspen, Colo., city councilman, had jumped out to an early lead in the seesaw contest, one that has garnered widespread attention.

As votes continue to come in, depending on the margin, it is possible there could be a recount in the race, in western Colorado. In an email on Friday, Annie Orloff, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state in Colorado, said the regular process has to play itself out, however, before a recount could be considered.

After a sample of ballots are audited, if the candidates differ by less than half a percent, then there must be a full recount, which must be completed by December 15.

Here’s Boebert’s speech after she won the Republican primary. Note that she’s packing heat:

*According to the Washington Post, Republicans are freaking out about their narrowing lead in the House. They’re surely not going to win as big as predicted, but they’ll win. It’s not enough:

With control of the House and Senate still undecided, angry Republicans mounted public challenges to their leaders in both chambers Friday as they confronted the possibility of falling short of the majority, eager to drag Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) down from their top posts as consequence.

The narrowing path for Republican victory has stunned lawmakers from both parties, freezing plans for legislation and leadership maneuvers as they wait to see who takes control and learn the margins that will dictate which ideological factions wield power. Regardless of the outcome, the lack of a “red wave” marks a devastating outcome for Republicans, who believed they would cruise to a large governing majority in the House and possibly flip the Senate.

The GOP faces a small but real prospect that it may not reclaim the House majority despite high pre-election hopes based on the disapproval of President Biden, record inflation and traditional losses for the party that holds the White House.

. . .Outgoing Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) told The Washington Post he knew the evening of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that the GOP would have a difficult time proving to voters they should be in the majority in two years.

“By midnight on January 6, it was obvious that if we continued to sleepwalk down the path of crazy we’d face a rude awakening,” he said. “Instead of facing those facts, the GOP spent the last two years heading in the same direction and actively avoiding any internal reckoning. After Tuesday, we have no choice but to heed voters when they say that ‘the grass is green, the sky is blue, and by the way, you just got your ass handed to you.’ But waking up to that reality is going to be rough.”
Well, winning the House isn’t exactly “getting your ass handed to you.” It’s more like being goosed a little bit.

*This Friday is the date that Theranos grifter Elizabeth Holmes will be sentenced, since the judge rejected several of her requests for a new trial. And though she could face 80 years in prison (20 for each of four wire fraud counts), the prosecutors have recommended a lighter sentence. But it’s still one that, if the judge accepts it, will keep her in jail for nearly a decade. Her lawyers, damn their hides, are painting her as a victim:

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence Elizabeth Holmes to 15 years in prison and require the Theranos founder to pay $800m in restitution, according to court documents filed on Friday.

A jury found Holmes guilty in January of four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy. Her sentencing is scheduled for 18 November, and she faces a maximum 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors argued that “considering the extensiveness of Holmes’s fraud”, their recommended sentencing would “reflect the seriousness of the offenses, provide for just punishment for the offenses, and deter Holmes and others”.

Holmes’s lawyer argued in documents filed on Thursday that the ex-Theranos boss should not be sentenced to prison at all and, at most, should receive 18 months of house arrest. The court filings argued that Holmes had been made a “caricature to be mocked and vilified” by the media over the years, though she is a caring mother and friend.

“Ms Holmes is no danger to the public,” Holmes’s lawyer said in the court documents. “She has no criminal history, has a perfect pretrial services compliance record, and is described by the people who know her repeatedly as a gentle and loving person who tries to do the right thing.”

. . . “Ms Holmes will never be able to seek another job or meet a new friend without the negative caricature acting as a barrier,” her lawyers argued.

That made me laugh. Home confinement and possible ostracism is enough punishment?!

*I showed a video of this the other day, but now it’s out as a scientific paper in PLOS ONE (I love the title: “In the line of fire: Debris throwing by wild octopuses”), and also as a popular summary in the NYT. Octopuses throw stuff at each other!

It turns out that the urge to hurl something at an irritating neighbor is not confined to land animals. A study published on Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE shows that octopuses of at least one species throw silt and shells, sometimes at one another. It’s a rare behavior in the animal kingdom, and the study is the first time it has been documented in octopuses.

While octopuses are intelligent, most species live largely solitary lives. But in Jervis Bay, Australia, unusually large numbers of one species — Octopus tetricus, better known as the gloomy octopus — gather at sites affectionately nicknamed Octopolis and Octlantis. Ideal denning conditions and abundant food attract the antisocial animals and force them into close quarters, where it’s common for them to poke, prod, grab and otherwise annoy one another. And that exasperation can lead to the deployment of projectiles as a potential manner of cephalopod conflict resolution.

. . . Though the researchers call the octopuses’ actions “throws,” Jervis Bay is not like a dodge ball court populated by eight-armed players; only in one case did an octopus fling a shell by straightening its arm the way a human would. There isn’t really a word for what the gloomy octopus does, Dr. Godfrey-Smith said. For instance, if an animal feels provoked by its neighbor, it will gather silt from the seafloor underneath its body and hold it there. When ready to fire, the thrower positions its siphon — the tubular organ used to pump water for swimming — underneath its body, which the study authors describe as an unusual stance. Then it will violently expel water to push the debris outward.

They are apparently trying to hit another conspecific rather than just discarding debris.

That these octopuses apparently throw projectiles at each other puts them in an exclusive group. Animals ranging from elephants to antlions throw things, but only some social mammals — including, of course, humans — aim at members of the same species. Gloomy octopuses can now be added to this list.

Here’s what you want to see: the antagonistic throwing:

*From reader Ken: “Twitter wags have been having some fun with Elon Musk’s new blue check mark policy with parody accounts. See, for example, the posts below”:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is enigmatic, but you’ll have to guess what she’s talking about:

Hili: I read today about reasons for parting.
Paulina: Who’s parting with whom?
Hili: It doesn’t matter, what’s important is to be well informed.
(Photo: Paulina)
In Polish:
Hili: Czytałam dziś o powodach rozstania.
Paulina: Kogo z kim?
Hili: Nie ma znaczenia, ważne, żebyśmy byli dobrze poinformowani.
(Zdjęcie: Paulina)


From Facebook:

From Merilee:

From Malcolm: a short history of life:

God is still angry at Elon Musk:

From Masih: more Iranian women defying the government:

From Simon: The tough Ukrainian cats of Kherson impede the Russian retreat:

From Barry: a mutualism between bird and mammal (bird uses fur to make nest)

An evil cat from Malcolm, click on second tweet with sound up:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, with the grim words, “she did not survive.”

Tweets from Matthew:

I think this is meiosis rather than mitosis because there are recombinant cats:

The hippo better not hurt those ducklings:

Look at those old Fifties cars!

27 thoughts on “Sunday: Hili dialogue, Senate retention edition

  1. I would guess that birds picking shedding undercoat from animals is fairly common, judging from how many do that to my donkey every spring.


  2. Great news about the Senate last night! Now hopefully Georgia will close the deal in the Dec 6 runoff and re-elect the Rev…you can never have too many seats in the Senate. In engineering we call this “contingency”. I have to apologize for my pre-election cynicism. It looks like a good part of the electorate rejected extremism and good for them…great for the Nation. While republicans in VA won their primaries with their true extreme MAGA/tRUMP positions, they all tried to throttle back in the general election campaign ads, following the odious governor glenn youngkin playbook. But in all but one case the voters saw through them and elected the dem, even with a recent redistricting that favored republicans. The dems had hurt themselves last year when they enacted woke k12 policies, giving republicans a foothold in the governor’s race. I think the lesson is, at least here, that, in general, neither extreme will capture a win in this purple shading to bluish state.

    Last night was as, if not more exciting in this house than election night was.

  3. Technically, the difference between crocodiles and alligators is that one you see after a while and the other you see later.

    1. *groan*

      Anyway, what do evolutionary biologists think about the phrasing of “What’s the difference between [A] and [B]?” It seems overly simplistic and almost implies that there must be observable differences between two evolutionary clades I’ve tried to shift to “How can you tell [A] and [B] apart?” – but sometimes I slip.

      Btw, I just looked it up. Crocodilians branched 87 MYA. I still wonder whether the term “living fossil” is overused.

      1. Oh, come on, that was one of my best. If you didn’t like that, you really don’t want to know the difference between a buffalo and a bison.

  4. Assuming the Republicans take the House, even by a slim majority, they can create great damage if they stay united. Aside from the endless investigations, they will be able to block important legislation, particularly the raising of the debt ceiling. During the lame duck session, the Democrats, while still retaining control of the House, should make every effort to raise the debt limit to an amount that it will never be an issue again.

    By keeping the Senate, Biden no longer has to worry about his judicial nominees or executive branch nominees be blocked by Mitch McConnell, who must be very depressed at this moment. Indeed, it is likely that he will face a challenge by Republican extremist senators for retention of his position as Senate minority leader. I think it likely that he could stave off the challenge, but he will be a diminished man.

    There is one big unanswered question emerging from the Republicans’ poor showing in the election. Namely, will the Party be able to break the grip on it of Trump and Trumpism? Some thought this would happen after the 2020 election, but it turned out to be a mirage. I think that will happen here despite the mutterings of some Republicans that Trump is bad for the Party. The reason is simple: Trump still has his cult and it decides through the primary system the Party’s candidates. Hence, Republican candidates will need Trump’s blessing, although it could be the kiss of death in the 2024 general election. This is good news for Democrats.

    There was a lot of talk about Republican extremists being a threat to democracy. There was a threat and at least for the next two years, it was thwarted. But, why did the threat emerge? One contributing factor has not gotten enough public attention: the primary system, ironically started in the early twentieth century as a means to promote democracy, is now one of its greatest threats. This is because generally speaking the political zealots are more likely to vote in primary elections, making extremist nominees more likely to win them. Yet, there doesn’t seem to be any viable alternative to this system. We won’t go back to nominees chosen by party bosses in smoke filled rooms or by state conventions. Hence, we can expect to see democracy under continued threat in times of more than usual political and social discord.

    1. All agreeable. The most sensible thing the Republicans can do is ditch Trump. Break the spell, as it were, and just stop this dangerous experiment in polarization and election denying extremism. I personally don’t understand how that seems impossible for them, so long as they stay united so that careerist politicians see no advancement except to also declare: “Trump? Trump who?” It could also pay to move to the political center which has arguably been de-populated by the left. But I don’t see that part happening any time soon with de rise of DeSantis.

    2. Well put.

      And yes, a Republican House majority can indeed do a lot of damage. But they have no mandate, and if they try something radical like allowing U.S. credit to default, it will be political suicide. The blame will be firmly placed on their head, and if they think blackmailing America (and the world) so they can cut social security or Medicaire is a winning strategy, they’re even more deluded than I imagined (and to quote Han Solo, “I can imagine quite a bit”).

  5. One contributing factor has not gotten enough public attention: the primary system, ironically started in the early twentieth century as a means to promote democracy, is now one of its greatest threats.

    This threat is greatest in heavily gerrymandered districts where incumbents face a much graver danger from extremist primary challengers from their own party than from opposing party candidates in the general election. Heavily gerrymandered districts are where the crazies go to turn pro.

    In a rational democratic republic, congressional and legislative districts would be drawn by nonpartisan commissions. Voters should choose their representatives, rather than representatives choosing their voters.

    1. In a rational democratic republic, congressional and legislative districts would be drawn by nonpartisan commissions.

      As an outsider, I find many aspects of the US electoral process somewhat surprising. The idea that the political party in power in a state gets to choose the boundaries for the districts for the national elections is one of the most surprising.

    2. Ranked choice voting is a good way to reduce extremism. Already fully adopted in Main and Alaska, that have more moderate congressional republicans like Susan Collins. It’s used in presidential primaries in four other states. Presently there are efforts aimed at adoption in more states. Ideally it should be combined with open primaries to further suppress the crazies.

    3. Ranked choice voting can reduce extremism. It’s fully adopted in Main and Alaska, that have more moderate republicans like Susan Collins. Presently it’s used in presidential primaries in four other states. It should be combined with open primaries to further suppress the crazies.

      1. That’s a textbook example of the “No true Scotsman…” fallacy, a form of begging the question. Only if you allow the response, OK, yes, PR would be too much democracy,* is it logically coherent.

        What if the plebes in a plebiscite have rejected proportional representation? They did in British Columbia and the idea is now a non-starter in all of Canada. Was that a democratic decision or an “error” that should be corrected by fiat to impose democracy?

        Whether PR is desired (or not) because theoretically more democratic typically takes second place in real life to the partisan hope that one’s single-issue fringe party like the Greens will get access to the legislature. The danger is that fringe parties on the right can get in, too, and this was why BC voted it down. The leftist fringe party already does well there under first-past-the-post.

        The practical view is that no government that found a winning formula to get a majority government under FPTP will risk loss by messing with success and bringing in PR. Perennial opposition and fringe parties are often fans of PR but if ever elected under FPTP they will go home with who brung ‘em.
        * Under the purest democracy, the mobile vulgus votes to loot the treasury for itself and then fights over how to divide the spoils.

  6. In other news…
    Dolly Parton has been awarded $100 million Courage and Civility Award by Jeff Bazos. But, Dolly is already worth $350 million! Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to reward a little known low income saintly type? He could at least wait ’till Dolly has given away all her fortune in acts of charity before refilling her tank. Just confirms that all these omni-rich guys are nuts.

    1. Dolly Parton is a longtime philanthropist. She’s donated more than a million books to Imagination Library, a program that distributes books to children— free, and from birth-to first year of school); and given numerous scholarships on a regular basis to kids who want to go to college; and has donated to children’s hospitals. She also recently donated $1 million to help fund research for the Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

      Bezos has the money, and Parton has a good track record of giving it back, especially to kids and teens in local communities. Compared to Bezos, she is “a low income saintly type.”

    2. Also, Dolly is, and her late Uncle Bill was, an enthusiastic supporter of the American Chestnut Foundation.

      Bonus points to anyone who knows the other prominent member of the musical industry in that category.

  7. Today in History:

    “On November 13th, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife.”–Opening lines of The Odd Couple TV show.

  8. ” Reason, not obedience, should guide our lives.

    Though it took centuries to crumble,
    the entire ossified cage of European social hierarchy
    — from kings to serfs, and between men and women,
    all of it shored up by the Catholic Church —
    was … … destroyed by this thought. ”

    — Ms Ayaan Hirsi Ali, ” Infidel ” ( y2007 ) and
    born this 13 November – day: y1969


    1. I’d say the hierarchy of Germanic societies (kings to serfs) didn’t need much catholic upshoring. But maybe I should read Hirsi Alis book.

  9. I would love to know the precise neurological reason why tongue twisters twist the tongue. As a recorder player, I find that some fast sequences of repeated broken chords feel exactly like tongue twisters, only it’s combinations of finger positions instead of tongue/lip movements. Should there be a neuroscientist here who’d like to know what I mean, look on Youtube (da roolz do not allow me to link) for Bolette Roed’s rendering of Vivaldi concerto RV441. The passage from 2:52 to 3:09 is such a finger twister.

  10. An easy way for Republicans to put more distance between themselves and Boss Tweet is to support continuation of the Jan 6 committee.

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